8 Years Later: Why I’m Voting for Hillary This Time

Eight years ago, I read an essay by Gloria Steinem urging young women to vote for Hillary Clinton. At the time, young people overwhelmingly supported Barack Obama. Steinem wrote something along the lines of: If young women knew better, they’d vote for Hillary. If they’d been around forty years ago and really understood the women’s movement, they’d be making the right choice.

It made me angry. I was an Obama supporter. I liked his message. I didn’t like the way Clinton ran her primary campaign. And I wasn’t going to vote for someone just because she was a woman—wasn’t that the opposite of equality? Talking down to people is never a good idea, especially if you’re trying to persuade them, and Gloria Steinem should have known that. If anything, she alienated me from the women’s movement. For a time.

This election season, I filled out one of those questionnaires about government policy that supposedly matches you with the candidate you’re most aligned with. I am in 99% agreement with Bernie Sanders. I like him. And yet, I think I’ll vote for Clinton. Why?

It’s a serious question. I’ve been a bit stumped. Admittedly, I’ve paid little attention outside of the headlines this campaign season. Something about hearing or reading the name, “Trump,” in almost every campaign story has turned me off. I decided awhile ago to ignore it all until it started to really matter.

imgres Yet, one thing has been clear to me: I feel a strong urge to vote for Hillary. What has happened in the last eight years to change my mind?

Sure, Clinton has gained even more experience. This didn’t use to matter to me as much. I think probably eight years and two children later, with a 40th birthday looming, I now value life and work experience all the more. But Sanders is experienced, too. They’re both intelligent and capable public servants.

It’s not about the issues—I’ve never been a one-issue person. I won’t cut off my nose to spite my face, and both Clinton and Sanders represent my basic ideals. I might be in 99% agreement with Sanders, but I’m in 97% agreement with Clinton. I do think Clinton has a stronger chance of putting her policies into place, of “getting things done,” as they say.

As far as I can tell, my affinity toward Clinton these eight years later comes down to two things:

  1. Someone close to me was raped.
  2. I had a daughter.

I now see the world differently. The women’s movement used to be intellectual for me. Now it’s personal.

I have new eyes, so when they see women ignored or shamed because they were raped, it stays with me. I have new ears, so when they hear a man talk to me about house maintenance issues like I’m a kindergartner and then ask me, “Can you remember what I said so you can tell your husband when he gets home?,” I file that away in my brain.

I can remember. Oh, yes I can.

The world hasn’t changed; I have. Women are still objectified, vilified, paid less, patronized, underestimated, raped, assaulted, and beaten simply because they are women. We are still told to “Be quiet” and “Be nice.” It is still assumed that having boys means you’ll have an energetic household but having girls means you’ll have a quiet one. A woman news anchor can still be called a bimbo by a presidential candidate and people will adore him. I still have to fold my body in and look around me when I walk alone at night, anywhere. The world hasn’t changed—now it all just means more to me.

Actually, let me be honest. It means more to me sometimes. But other times—when, for instance, a man gives me a proverbial pat on the head and tells me, “You’re alright, kid,” after he finds out I know how to use a shovel to dig a trench, I feel pride mixed with my anger. A part of me still likes those pats on the head.

Electing a woman has become a priority for me and I’m not ashamed to say it. Too often, I think, women cower to the finger-pointers and respond with, “I support her because she’s qualified, not because she’s a woman.” Why can’t it be both?

Now, would Sanders help women? Sure. Maybe. I can’t know for sure. Does Clinton being a woman mean she’ll always do right by women? Sure. Maybe. I can’t know for sure.

But I do know that figureheads are important. I do know it’s high time we elect a qualified, dedicated woman to the top office. And I do know I don’t want my daughter to like having her head patted—not by a handyman, not even by Gloria Steinem.

So the bigger question isn’t, Why not Bernie? The bigger questions are: What took me so long to put a woman first and what is the women’s movement going to do to recruit my daughter, not alienate her?

17 thoughts on “8 Years Later: Why I’m Voting for Hillary This Time

  1. Can I just say, thank you? I have been feeling exactly this same way with this election. I’m older than you are, and I haven’t had a daughter *since* the last election, but I could’ve written this post. I too voted for President Obama (and I’m still glad I did), but this time around, I’m gung ho Hilary. One of the main reasons I am SO gung ho is that I think about my daughter. She can do anything my son does and she is an amazing woman and I would hate to think anyone would judge her by any standards differently than my son is judged by. In any way, but of course she is. And this: “It is still assumed that having boys means you’ll have an energetic household but having girls means you’ll have a quiet one,” is one of my hottest buttons around. NO. Just NO. And damn am I sick of having my head patted or criticized for speaking my mind! I don’t want my daughter to go through that anymore, either!

    Thank you for this wonderful (and critically important) post, Jess. This: “The world hasn’t changed—now it all just means more to me.” YES!

    • Thanks so much, Julia. It’s been an interesting change in me, and it’s probably far more complex than I could write in a blog. But I do admire her so much more than I used to because I understand more deeply what she’s been up against. I think our challenge is to get young women to relate. The women’s movement, from my perspective, isn’t doing that.

  2. Great article Jessica…..I hope she wins and for all the reasons you wrote about…..I am a much older feminist who was around when they were burning bras….it has been a long fight for equality and we still aren’t there. I think it is about time a women is in the White House and Hillary has what it takes to be Madam President.

  3. So well said, Jessica! I feel the same way; I love both candidates, but I keep going back to Hillary because she is an exceptionally qualified leader, and yes, also a woman, which we can all say doesn’t play a part in it, but you know what? It’s important. To say it’s not is to say that every man who has ever been a US president would have been elected if he were a she (which we know is not true). It’s important because this opportunity was MORE THAN fought for and earned by Hillary and all the women who came before her. And I think it’s time we put someone who has fought these battles tirelessly in office. It’s not that she’s automatically qualified because she’s a woman (goodness knows I didn’t feel the same about Carly Fiorina!) but because as a woman, she has fought battles that most men will never have to face, and that adds a different layer of complexity and understanding to all the ways she’s qualified.

  4. I’m a big fan of yours Jessica and i would not and will not attempt to invalidate your feelings about voting for Hillary. But what it comes down to is in fact voting for her because she’s woman. Because to you she validates feelings of being patronized by men. Of women’s issues. That’s all fine. Gosh knows every other group votes on one issue reasons too. Trump i don’t think will get the nomination anyway. I certainly don’t support him. For alot of reasons. But whomever we eventually elect needs to have a petspective of representing all Americans. Not just white male Americans. Or black or hispanic or female or senior or glbt or whatever. We have been sorely lacking that for a very long time.

    Now having said that, i don’t even believe hillary will keep any interest of anyone but herself. She has simply proved that over and over. Look at her history. It’s not good. And yet not good has been remarkably consistent. This is not what good people do or act like. This is what politicians do and act like. Barack Obama has done the same thing. He will be known as the most divisive president we’ve ever had. Hillary will not be far behind. Because she thinks only of herself.

    All i ask of people is to really study all the issues around a candidate of this magnitude and really be introspective about why you choose this one. If it really comes down to one single issue then i would respectfully suggest another review of an aggregate position be examined. One successful issue yet risking serious consequences on the failure of many others is seriously not a good trade off. And that has been what has caused us to be in serious trouble at this point in time. I sincerely do wish you well.

    • Thanks for your comment and for adding to the conversation. I disagree, of course. I wouldn’t vote for Carly Fiorina just because she’s a woman. I support Hillary because she’s experienced, I agree with most of her policies, and she’s a woman. It can’t be gender alone, and with Hillary, it’s not. My point is, all things being relatively equal, I’ll go with the woman.

  5. You haven’t convinced me to vote for Hillary. I certainly respect your reasons for doing so….I’m still on the fence need to see how the next few months play out. I am not a fan of Super Pacs and since Mr. Sanders is the only one speaking out against them at this point I lean that way. To me he seems like the most authentic person running and that matters a great deal to me.

    • I agree, authenticity matters. I understand Hillary gets a lot of slack about that. I think some of it is earned, but I also think a lot of it is not. I think she has to watch her step, has had to for years and years, much more carefully than Sanders, and it has affected how she comes across. When I consider what she’s been up against, I can forgive that.
      Best of luck to you as you decide — it’s an interesting campaign season, as always!

  6. Hi Jessica. I’m going to comment on this, just this one last time. I promise. 🙂 Below is an article from the Fiscal Times. I get your ideal of Hillary being for women, and as such is why you’d vote for her. Notwithstanding Gloria Steinham and Madeline Albright today calling women who do not vote for women, as having a special place reserved in hell for them. How disrespectful. If I said I’d only vote my gender there’d be a whole lot of repercussions about that. In any event, this was merely one of the escapades of the Clintons that I assume you’re probably not aware of, you and others were way to young to have any inkling of them, and what they do for their own benefit. But this is the type of research one needs to do to get a picture of anyone’s character, for your support of them. Please read it just to understand they had no issue with fiscal ethics violations, their disrespect for the environment, nor of the cover ups, all done for their benefit. Let’s not talk about her “speech makings” in front of Wall Street and her demands for the price of those to go to the Clinton Foundation. And have you looked at how that money is spent from the CF. yep, her own PAC’s.

    “The Clinton era of the 1990s is remembered as a prosperous time punctuated by a series of scandals. Today, we tend to dismiss these scandals as irrelevant because they mostly involved sex, were exaggerated by partisan Republicans and were mostly related to actions taken by Bill Clinton, who will not be on the 2016 ballot. But sweeping away all this history deprives voters of the chance to consider a largely forgotten financial scandal that directly involved Hillary Clinton during 1978 and 1979.

    Under the guidance of an attorney representing Tyson Foods, Hillary Clinton made a $98,540 profit from a $1,000 initial investment in less than one year trading commodity futures. While $98,540 may not seem like much money relative to the Clinton family’s wealth today, it exceeded Bill and Hillary’s combined annual income at the time.

    Related: Does Mike Bloomberg Know Something We Don’t About the Clinton FBI Probe?

    When this story was revealed in the spring of 1994, Hillary Clinton’s press secretary suggested that the enormous profit was the result of the First Lady’s own research — but the Tyson-linked attorney, James Blair, admitted that he advised Clinton when to buy and sell the futures. Further, there was no evidence that Clinton had previously traded in commodity futures or knew much about the market.

    Careful readers at the time also learned that Clinton’s initial trading also had a serious irregularity. Unlike stock investments, commodity futures are almost always purchased with high levels of margin, meaning that the investor is using a substantial proportion of money borrowed from the broker to control positions. Exchanges and regulators typically require investors to keep a minimum amount of cash in their futures accounts to avoid getting into a negative position if futures prices move in the wrong direction. In Hillary Clinton’s case, her $1,000 initial investment was well below the $12,000 deposit required by the Chicago Mercantile Exchange for the first trades she executed. So not only did Hillary make an extraordinary profit for a novice investor, she did so without following the rules applied to less well-connected traders.

    By the time the so-called “cattle futures” scandal fell out of the headlines, readers of The New York Times and Washington Post — mainstream outlets that both extensively reported the story — were left with the impression that Hillary’s trading activity was suspicious. But, since Hillary was not an elected official, the scandal was eclipsed by bimbo eruptions and the Whitewater Affair, both involving the president himself.

    Related: Clinton Told Aide to Send Talking Points By ‘Non-Secure’ System

    It also was not much of an issue in 2008 — but that was before the federal government started bailing out banks and other big corporations. In the aftermath of TARP and other widely reported instances of crony capitalism, Clinton’s behavior back in 1978 and 1979 warrants further scrutiny.

    The factor that makes the cattle futures scandal relevant is that Hillary Clinton received her trading advice from Tyson Food’s outside counsel. Tyson was a major agricultural producer in Arkansas and had numerous issues that Attorney General and later Governor Bill Clinton could affect.

    One such issue involved enforcement of environmental regulations affecting Tyson’s chicken-processing plants. It can be costly for factory farmers to properly dispose of chicken manure, but the failure to do so can cause serious damage. This was demonstrated by an incident at the company’s Green Forest plant in northwest Arkansas. As The New York Times reported in March 1994:

    In 1977, the state pollution control agency reissued the license for Tyson’s Green Forest plant on the condition that the company meet with city officials to work out a plan for treating its wastes. But the state never enforced the order, and in May 1983, the waste from the plant seeped into the town’s drinking water. Residents became ill, and 15 months later Governor Clinton declared the town a disaster area.

    Related: Here’s Why the Media Stopped Reporting on Clinton’s New Emails

    So it is possible to link Tyson’s support for the Clintons to water contamination, an ironic circumstance given Hillary Clinton’s criticism of Governor Rick Snyder’s handling of the Flint water crisis.

    The Times also reported, “During Mr. Clinton’s tenure in Arkansas, Tyson benefited from a variety of state actions, including $9 million in government loans, the placement of company executives on important state boards and favorable decisions on environmental issues.”

    Tyson appears to have obtained these results for what looks like a bribe delivered though Hillary Clinton’s commodities account. To quote the company’s former chairman: politics is “a series of unsentimental transactions between those who need votes and those who have money.”

    This perspective should provide cause for concern today, since Hillary Clinton made $2.9 million in speaking fees from large financial institutions between 2013 and 2015. That total includes $675,000 from the much reviled Goldman Sachs. One is left to wonder whether Goldman and the other financial industry behemoths stand to gain any transactional benefits for their money.

    While paid speech-making is not illegal, bribery is. Tyson might have simply made a campaign contribution to Bill Clinton back then, but that would have violated limits then in effect. Instead, Bill and Hillary pushed — and seemingly broke — ethical and legal limits to get the cash they needed.”

  7. by the way. Thanks for being open to publishing different points of view. It really is needed and the most important of the democracy we are all hoping to retain.

      • Interesting read. What I can’t though figure out the is why they say Citigroup donated when it clearly says individual employees of Citigroup donated. So does the candidate ask corporate and they flow that down as a “suggestion” much like the United way. Which is not really a suggestion. If so then why does Citigroup get the credit if you will of the donation? What’s the benefit to Cities. Do they still then get the gratitude of the candidates and hence the favors?

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